ISLAMABAD: At least three climbers, including one Australian youth, have died this month while trying to scale K2, the world’s second-highest mountain, after he fell during his descent, officials said Thursday.
On Thursday, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed the death of Matthew Eakin, saying, it was “providing consular assistance to the family of an Australian man who died during a climbing expedition in northern Pakistan.”
In a statement, it did not provide any further details, saying: “We extend our condolences to his family and friends.”
It did not disclose the name of the Australian climber for privacy reasons.
Karrar Haidri, the deputy chief of the Alpine Club of Pakistan (ACP), which coordinates with government bodies during such incidents, said a search team had also spotted the body of a Canadian mountaineer, Richard Cartier, who was scaling K2 with the Australian and who had gone missing.
The Canadian Embassy in Islamabad did not immediately respond to a request for comment. There was no comment from Pakistani officials.
“We extend our condolences to the friends and family members of the Australian and Canadian climbers who died on K2,” Haidri told The Associated Press, adding that a climber from Afghanistan also died on K2 this month.
“This month we were very happy because we continued receiving good news about successful summitting of K2 by climbers. But suddenly some reports of sad news also started coming last week when some climbers went missing, and we are now gradually learning about their death,” he said.
The bodies of the Eakin and Cartier had been found at a location between Camp 1 and Camp 2 of K2. Citing unnamed sources, it said the two men went missing on July 19 in two separate incidents.
The death came as dozens of climbers from across the globe were trying to scale K2 in northern Pakistan.
K2, on the Chinese-Pakistani border in the Karakorum Range, has one of the deadliest records, with most climbers dying on the descent, where the slightest mistake can trigger an avalanche and become fatal.
Only a few hundred have successfully reached its summit. In contrast, Mount Everest has been summited more than 9,000 times.
Considered extremely difficult to climb, K2 is not only the second-highest mountain after Mount Everest, its ascent and descent are considered much more challenging that the world’s highest.
K2 is also the coldest and windiest of climbs. At places along the route, climbers must navigate nearly sheer rock faces rising 80 degrees, while avoiding frequent and unpredictable avalanches.